Thank you to the 95 parishioners who attended our parish meeting after Masses the weekend of November 13th and 14th (the November 21st bulletin had to be submitted before the 13th, so I couldn’t put this thank you in last week). A short report of the meeting will be in the December Parish Press, which will be mailed and posted this week.
Advent begins with our liturgical celebrations this weekend. Advent is a season of hope, in that we are asked to reflect on the reality that our salvation is at hand. Over and over our Advent readings will present to us that, in the middle of disastrous situations, God will come to the rescue. Our first reading says it very clearly: The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land. In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure. Safety and security in the middle of the dangers of this world! Of course, that safety and security is our Lord Jesus Christ, whose first coming we will celebrate at Christmas.
For us, personally, it means that God wants to help us; he wants us to be safe and secure. But we have to let him. Perhaps the first step is to be aware of what we need, so that we can ask for the help we need. That is why quiet, reflective time is so important. That is why the Church gives us the seasons of Advent and Lent, inviting us to be more aware of the areas in which we need to grow.
Once we know where we need to grow, we can ask God for help and he will give it to us. But it is sort of like a boomerang in the sense that it comes back to us as our responsibility to plan how we can grow. God will help, but we have to do our part and use his help to change and grow. Let me give an example. Suppose I realize that I am losing my temper and treating someone badly. I ask God to help me be more patient with that person. God will help, but I need to cooperate by working to change how I react. That might be by reflecting on what it is specifically that sets me off and why that bothers me. Maybe it will be strategizing how I can get control of myself before reacting (e.g., by counting to 10 before saying anything).
The point is this: God will give us the graces we need, but we have to work and cooperate to bring about the necessary changes.
Our lives tend to get busier and busier as Christmas approaches. I invite us to carve out time to reflect on how we are doing at allowing Christ and His graces to enter our lives. Our evening of reflection and adoration this Tuesday at 7:00 pm is a special opportunity, as will be our communal penance service on Monday, December 13th at 7:00 pm. Please take advantage of both. God bless.
Church sign of the week: Good friends are like stars; you don't always see them, but you know they are always there.
Please mark your calendars to attend our Advent Reflection and Adoration on Tuesday evening, November 30th, at 7:00 pm. It will be a great way to kick-start our reflective season of Advent.
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. In our Gospel, Jesus tells Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” What does that mean for us?
One way that it has been interpreted and lived out in the past is that Jesus’ Kingdom is in heaven, another place, and therefore this world is not important. With that interpretation, our focus is on getting to heaven, on doing what will please God so that we are saved at the end of our lives.
But I think a better way to interpret it is that, rather than saying His Kingdom is in a different place, Jesus is saying that the Kingdom that He wants to establish right now is based on different values and structures that are normal “in this world.” For example, in the Kingdom of Jesus, the last are the first. In other words, those in need are the ones who get attention. Those in power “serve” those in need, rather than exercise power over them.
This interpretation puts our focus on living in the present and challenges us to help Christ’s Kingdom to unfold. I end with a quote from Fr. George M. Smiga that expresses what I want to say:
There are two kingdoms operating in the world in which we live, and we must decide between them. That decision will determine everything, everything about our lives. It will determine how we live personally and interpersonally, how we live spiritually and politically, how we live emotionally and economically… those who belong to the kingdom of God do not have survival as their highest good. Therefore, their decisions are often different from those many others make in our world. For those who belong to the kingdom of God, decisions will not be determined by what everybody else is doing or what the latest polls say. They will have a different perspective on war, on poverty, on immigration, on healthcare. They will have a different opinion on the value of life whether that life is found in the womb, or on death row. They will have a different approach on what is most important in raising a family and how one should treat one’s enemies.
There are two kingdoms operating in the world in which we live and their values are different. We must choose between them, and the choice we make will influence everything.
I invite us to reflect this week on which kingdom we are choosing, asking God to help us grow in bringing about HIS Kingdom.
Have a prayerful and thankful Thanksgiving. God bless.
Church sign of the week: It’s not happy people who are thankful; it’s thankful people who are happy.
Congratulations to those who were confirmed last Tuesday evening. We accompany you in prayer, asking God to strengthen you as you live lives that help bring about His Kingdom. God bless.
Please mark your calendars to attend our Advent Reflection and Adoration on Tuesday evening, November 30th, at 7:00 pm. It will be a great way to begin our reflective season of Advent.
We are at the last Sunday of Ordinary time before the Feast of Christ the King. The readings come from a literary genre called “apocalyptic” writings. They can be looked at as very scary or as a sign of hope. For example, imagine a man is adrift in raging waters and a coast guard helicopter is trying to save him, before he drowns. For someone looking on from afar, it is a scary scene: huge waves, great winds blowing the helicopter around, and the man desperately hanging onto the board. But, for the man in the water, the helicopter gives him great hope that he will be saved.
In the reading from Daniel, we are told “at that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince, guardian of your people.” In the Gospel, we hear, “and then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory.” In other words, despite all the problems in the world, despite all the tumultuous waves and heavy wind, we have a Savior who will be there to rescue us, to pull us from the water. As Jesus says over and over to His disciples, “Be not afraid.”
The final image that Jesus uses in the Gospel reaffirms that this is a message of hope. Leaves on a fig tree are a sign of new life, that summer is coming after the harsh winter: the tree that appears dead is coming to life!
As we end the Church year and prepare to celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, our readings remind us to have faith and hope that all will be well, that Jesus is in control, and, if we stay close to Him, all will be OK. And the parable of the Last Judgment tells us how to stay close to Jesus: “when I was hungry, you gave me to eat; when I was thirsty, you gave me to drink…” How are we doing?
Church sign of the week: Would you want yourself as a neighbor?
This coming weekend, after each Mass, we will have our annual All Parish Meeting, at which updates will be given on what is happening in our parish community. A highlight will be the opportunity to meet our new Director of Liturgy and Music, Catherine Reich. Please plan on joining us immediately after Mass in the cafeteria.
We thank Kathy Wellenstein for her many years of dedicated ministry as Director of Liturgy and Music and wish her the best as she retires. We will have some sort of recognition celebration in the future, as circumstances permit. God bless and thank you.
You might notice that our playground has been removed. We have donated it to “Kids Around the World”, a non-profit faith-based organization which will refurbish it and send it to a community in Africa, South America, or the Middle East. It was removed in preparation for the sale of the back of the parking lot and the refinishing of the remaining part of the parking lot. Other factors included avoiding expensive repairs and gaining additional parking places, which will be needed once construction begins.
National Vocations week begins November 7th. Please consider joining our Salvatorian Family as a Lay Salvatorian, a religious sister, a religious brother, or a religious priest. Our vocation director, Bobby Pantuso SDS, can be reached at email@example.com for more information. For information on being a diocesan priest, visit thinkpriest.org.
Sometimes I can clearly see the Holy Spirit at work. When we chose this weekend as Pledge Weekend for our 2022 Stewardship Campaign, we did not look at the readings. As it turns out, the readings couldn’t be more appropriate!
In the first reading, a pagan woman, trying to survive in a famine, gives Elijah the last food she had for her and her son. As a result, her jar of flour and jug of oil lasted for a whole year, until the famine was over.
In the Gospel, Jesus takes on the scribes and rich people who gave a lot of money with big fanfare, but they were giving from what was extra. The poor widow gave a pittance, but it was all that she had, a real sacrifice. The point is that the cost to the giver is more relevant than the amount given.
“Stewardship” means that we use well the gifts of time, talent, and treasure that the Lord has given us. Use “well” means that we use them for the good of others and the building up of the Kingdom, not just for ourselves. Yes, we need to provide for ourselves and our family, but Christian stewardship invites us to examine our priorities, asking ourselves what is REALLY needed and how we can use some of our time, talent, and treasure for others.
With the Stewardship Drive, we are concentrating on the financial. As we emerge from the pandemic and are charting a course for the future, we will have ministry fairs to engage time and talent.
As Elijah was asking the widow to share her last food with him, he told her “Do not be afraid.” And because of her generosity and trust, the Lord took care of her. The Lord tells us that, if we are generous, all will be well. Hopefully, we will be able to trust, as did the widow. I ask you to prayerfully consider what you can contribute financially to support our community and its ministries in 2022. God bless.
Church sign of the week: Money will buy you a pretty good dog, but it won’t buy the wag of its tail.